The Debenhams store at Westwood Cross looks set to close after confirmation that the ailing chain has been bought by fashion retailer Boohoo.
The £55m sale means the closure of the remaining 118 Debenhams outlets with goods being sold online only by Boohoo from early 2022..
Some stores may reopen when covid trading restrictions are lifted but it is not clear how long this will be for.
An acquisition statement by Boohoo says: “The Group intends to rebuild and relaunch the Debenhams platform, helping further the Group’s stated ambition to lead the fashion eCommerce market, and grow into new categories including
beauty, sport and homeware.”
It adds: “In order to allow for the winding down of Debenhams’ operations, Debenhams will continue to operate its website for an agreed period before the relaunch on the Group’s platform and a licence has been granted to allow
for the winding down of Debenhams’ retail stores (when they are in a position to re-open) for an additional period.
“The Transaction will be financed through the Group’s existing cash balance, which stood at £386.9m on 31 December 2020. The Group will only be acquiring the brands and associated intellectual property rights – the Transaction does not include Debenhams’ retail stores, stock or any financial services.”
In December rescue talks for the brand with JD Sports collapsed.
It is understood the JD Sports withdrawal was due to Arcadia – which has also collapsed – being a main concession operator at the stores.
That left Debenhams facing the prospect of being wound down with the loss of some 12,000 jobs.
The company had already closed a number of outlets and cut more than 6,000 staff last year.
The collapse of Arcadia – responsible for stores such as Top Shop – put 13,000 jobs at risk.
Talking of the sale to Boohoo Geoff Rowley, joint administrator for Debenhams and partner of FRP Advisory, said: “We are pleased to have secured the future for this great brand, and to have created the opportunity for a new Debenhams-branded business to emerge in a different shape beyond the pandemic.
“I expect that the agreement with Boohoo may provide some job opportunities but we regret that this outcome does not safeguard the jobs of Debenhams’ employees beyond the winding-down period.”
Debenhams has been one of the anchor businesses at the Westwood Cross shopping centre since it first opened in 2005. The other anchor store is M&S.